Peak(s):  Meeker, Mt  -  13,911 feet
"Southeast Longs" - 14,060 feet
Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Pagoda Mtn  -  13,497 feet
Storm Pk B  -  13,326 feet
Lady Washington, Mt  -  13,281 feet
Date Posted:  08/23/2016
Modified:  12/12/2016
Date Climbed:   08/21/2016
Author:  tehchad
Additional Members:   Valesia
 Longs Grand Slam  

OP: Chad Bowman
Scott: Scott Groeschl
Shoes: Altra Lone Peak 2.5
Weather: clear. 30's in the night and 50's during the day until we got back to treeline - then it got hot. Thanks to Chris Tomer for clarification on the forecast.

Edit: Scott's TR is here

A few of us have been talking about it for a couple of years. I'd even mentioned it to my mentor Alan Arnette. We had made plans to do this several times and it just never worked out where both of us could go. The weekend came with both Scott and I off, so here we go. He wanted ample time so we met at the Long's peak trailhead at 10pm. He seemed way too excited.
We set off at 1025pm. We made great time, for me anyway. 3h55m to the top of Meeker (new PR for me). Climbing the loft, conditions were dry. We didn't see any snow below the exit ramp. He said that he had climbed it before and cut straight up from the exit ramp. I took him up the loft a bit further and there's a rough trail. It went fast. Summit of Meeker at 220am.

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I left Scott in the loft to go tag southeast Long's. I read somewhere that it is technically a 14er, though unranked. Here's a shot of the anchor bolts.

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It was harder than I envisioned. The slope gradually increases in angle and the rocks get bigger. Lots of boulder hopping near the top. I shot for what I thought was the middle and ended up hitting the cliff a bit to the right or east of the true top.

We flew through the exit to Keplinger's. I got to show Scott the three different routes and coach him through the face route that is solid and easy. He said something about being glad we did that at night so he couldn't see how exposed it was. Ha! You did good man.
We hit the top of Longs at 456am. It was still dark. We waited there for about 40 minutes, waiting for the sun. We weren't real keen on route finding from the bottom of the homestretch toward Pagoda in the dark. It got cold waiting so once we saw the horizon crack, we got moving again. Once at the connection to the narrows, we descended about another 300 vertical feet. It seemed like a lot more than the intel we had found. Go to the pile of rocks that you see, descend around the left/east and south sides. From there, it's easy to see the route back to the west and the keyboard of the winds.
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The break in the cliff band was obvious and easy to find. From the top, it appeared that you could take either the left/upper side or the right/lower. I ended up taking the left and it was easy, class 2+/3-.

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From the bottom of that, we turned right and it was a cakewalk to get over to the keyboard. We stopped by the first trough and it appeared very easy (like the trough closer to Long's, just less travelled). I took a big drink of water, had a snack, and then left my pack here. We wandered by the second trough and I got a big "OH HELL NO!" from Scott! I laughed. It wasn't the route.
Heading towards Pagoda was a lot of small talus and boulder hopping. It was work. Not crazy hard work, but still work. The band of white rocks is a nice landmark for reference. Hit the top at 736am not quite 2 hours from Longs.

Working back to the trough seemed to go fast. Picked up my pack and we took a nice long break here. Dropping down through the keys was way easier that I had imagined from the intel we had. It was like the trough on the keyhole route with some minor differences. First, there's moss all over. The scree is still on the solid rock as this isn't travelled much. I asked Scott to stay just off of directly above me and give me a bit of room. It felt just slightly steeper than the trough.

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Once at the bottom with smooth rock on either side easing, we turned right and cruised over to the keyhole route. Took us about 30 minutes. It wasn't hard. I was getting tired though.

Joining the herds, we joined the keyhole route and skirted the west face pretty fast. I took Scott off route quite a bit to skip past all of the people. With the moves on the exit to Keplinger's, he seemed to have a lot of confidence and it began to show.
At the keyhole, we pulled layers. It was getting warm. I was glad for the breeze to keep things a bit cooler.

We skirted the east side of the first couple of humps on Storm. This was work. Hard work. We were tired and doing some big boulder hopping. Some moved, some didn't. I'm glad that I didn't first attempt this in winter (Yes, that was one of our plans that fell apart). I wasn't ready for this in winter.
Eventually, we made the top of Storm. 1015am.

The descent was hard. It seemed a bit steep. We stopped in the boulderfield to eat and I finished all of my water (Thanks to the two guys that gave us another liter. Helped me a lot.)
The ascent on the west side of Mount Lady Washington seemed like the easiest thing we did all day. I took a look at things from our break in the boulderfield and tried to pick out the areas with smaller rocks and lower angles. It seemed to work. Anyway, we hit the final summit of MLW at 1140am. There was a snarky old man on top from Estes and he was enjoying the banter between Scott and I.

The down from MLW on the east side is a lot of big talus. Most of it is solid and it's all work. We had empty tanks and still had about 4 miles to the cars. This seemed to drag on for a while. It was getting hotter and hotter. I think my wool buff is great. It seems a bit much for sun protection when it's warm though. It might be time to find a runner's hat or etc.
We hit the trail and began to, very slowly, make better time. We still stopped just above the Jim's Grove turnoff to just sit. Once we hit treeline and the double bridge, we stopped to drench our heads in the cold water. It was very refreshing. Had something to eat there too. The rest of it seemed to drag on and yet it went pretty fast. I don't know why, but Scott made a lot of conversation. I couldn't tell if he was feeling better or what, but I was really happy for the distraction. The trailhead came quickly because of it. I seem to remember some mention of doing this again. Maybe I was hallucinating. Anyway, we hit the car at 250pm. 16h25m. Dang. I was half hoping I'd make it in faster time than Sam Sala and I could give him some grief. Alas, he's an animal and yet we still did it.
I heard that Gerry Roach was facetiously talking mountains and joked about the grand slam. Then one of his friends did it. Well sir, your joke is on me. I'm wrecked. So go ahead man, laugh it up.

With Scott coming off of Rainier, I figured he'd run circles around me. I lead most of the time and showed him a couple of things. He really kept things going. I've got to give him credit. He kept up with me through all of it. He never really complained and got it done.

Lessons:
-Water is your lifeline. 2 liters from the grassy knoll simply isn't enough. 4.5 probably would do it for me. Everyone "burns" water at different rates.
-You can push much further into tired than you think you can. I ran the Horsetooth half marathon this past April. 27F in the snow. Yeah, you get tired. This was much more tiring.
-While it's totally doable solo, I think it would be best to take a buddy. Prolonged time at altitude can bring on issues. Most of the issues you face are easily solvable. It's nice to have someone bringing a different set of eyes, different approach, and different gear in the pack. Scott's water filter helped on this trip.
-Route finding is a different skill than I thought and it's something that I need to spend more time working on. It's more than just finding the break in the cliff band below the narrows. It's seeing where to move through talus that will make things faster.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
rob runkle

Cool
08/23/2016 13:28
Very cool, congrates, and good summary points. I was thinking when you ran out of water, "I wonder how much he brought?" I usually bring 2 liters also, but this gave me a reminder to consider more for the longer trips.


Valesia

He never really complained
08/24/2016 10:59
Sure I did, it was just under my breath lol



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